Last week, Irving Kristol, the "godfather of neoconservatism," died at the age of 89. Now, a few columnists are wondering if intellectual conservatism — which lies at the opposite pole from Glenn Beck's right-wing diatribes — went to the grave with him. "Three cheers" for Irving Kristol, the "irreplaceable," man of ideas.
- Irving Kristol, Renaissance Man. At The New York Times, David Brooks
says Kristol was a clear and critical thinker in the "fanatical
century" in which he lived. "He would champion certain causes. He could
arrive at surprising and
radical conclusions. He was unabashedly neoconservative. But he also
stood apart, and directed his skeptical gaze even on his own positions,
and even on the things to which he was most loyal." He calls Kristol,
"the most influential contemporary writer in my life."
- Where Have All the True Conservatives Gone? Michael Lind asks wistfully at Salon. Lind says that in 1965, reading Kristol's magazine, The Public Interest, was heaven on earth. "If you were interested in the scintillant collision of philosophy, politics and policy, bliss was it in that dawn to be alive." He says today's neoconservative hawks are a poor substitute for the thoughtful conservatism of Kristol's generation.
The sins of the sons should not be visited upon the fathers. I hope
that, in the judgment of history, the "paleoliberal" neoconservatism of
the 1970s will overshadow the crude, militaristic neoconservatism of
the 1990s and 2000s. For two decades, between the Johnson years and the
Reagan years, neoconservatism really was the vital center that Arthur
Schlesinger had called for in the late 1940s. A robust new liberalism,
if there is to be one in the aftermath of the opportunistic
triangulations of Clinton and Obama, cannot leapfrog back to the
Progressives or New Dealers, but must begin closer to home, with the
early neoconservatives, who had learned from the failures and mistakes
as well as the successes of the Progressive Era, the New Deal and the
- The Intellectual Who Cared Whether His Ideas Worked in the Real World, declares Monica Charen at The National Review. "Because he actually did care about ordinary people and their welfare,
Kristol became one of capitalism's great apologists. Capitalism had
eased more misery and engendered more comfort than any other system in
world history, he pointed out (and he knew his world history)."
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